Leon Cooperman just proved that fighting SEC charges is better than settling quickly, by reaching a favorable SEC insider trading settlement after a fierce Court battle. Cooperman fought his SEC insider trading case in Court, and got part of it thrown out on a motion to dismiss.1 He leveraged that victory into a settlement approved on May 22, 2017, which did not impose any industry bar or suspension, rare for an insider trading settlement. In stark contrast, the SEC had earlier sought a five-year industry bar against Cooperman.2 Cooperman’s settlement highlights the importance of retaining counsel that is ready to fight the SEC in Court to achieve the best outcome.
The Cooperman settlement shows the SEC is often unwilling to reach a reasonable settlement until its allegations face the cold reality of failure in Court. This is particularly true in insider trading and large fraud cases, where the SEC has investigated for years before engaging in settlement discussions. By that time, it is harder for the SEC to remain objective about the case; and internal SEC pressure for higher sanctions increases. Thus, the more serious the SEC charges are, the more it pays to fight the SEC in Court.